Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Inn Signs - The Salutation Inn

In Topsham in Devon is an inn called The Salutation Inn.

Most inns of that name date back centuries and the name refers to the Annunciation - the greeting of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary.  In the seventeenth century the Puritans strongly objected to such signs and they were changed in various ways, some to be changed back after the Restoration.
An old print of the Inn in an art shop showed it once had an ordinary inn sign though the content couldn't be distinguished.  But the inn sign for this Salutation Inn is now a broomstick and, being unable to work out why that should be I enquired within.

I obviously wasn't the first person to have enquired and I was told that the broom was a popular sign for an inn, signifying that it was well-kept and clean.  A most plausible answer.  But I haven't found any evidence to that effect on-line or in any of my half dozen or so books on inn signs.  Nor have I ever seen another inn sign of a broom without it relating in some way to witches.  Strange.

(For the answer please see Librarian's comment below.)


  1. Some things we may just never know.

  2. Maybe a broom was all they had to hang at the moment, and they don't know what else to say.

  3. It may be totally different in England, but in Germany, a broomstick hung like that on a house means it is a temporary restaurant or pub. Around harvest time in late summer, in many villages and smaller towns, people who usually do not run a pub, bar or restaurant, set up part of their homes as temporary restaurants where they serve New Wine, onion pie, home-made sausages and meat, bread and so on. Simple meals, very traditional, very filling!
    Sometimes they keep their places open to to guests for a few weeks, sometimes only for a weekend, but never longer than maybe a month or so.
    These restaurants are called "Besen-Wirtschaft" or simply "Besen", i.e. "broomstick restaurant" or "broom/broomstick".
    So, who knows, maybe when the inn was set up originally, the landlord didn't have the money or the time to buy a proper inn sign, or he didn't think it was going to be a permament thing, and therefore used a broomstick as a sign.

    1. Thanks very much, Meike. I bet that is the reason and it's great to find that blogging friends know things I can't find in books or on-line.


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